Kidney Transplant and Rebirth: A Palestinian Love Story

Rima and Anna Saadat have been through a harrowing experience. (Photo: WANN, Supplied)

By Yousef Dawas

Hard times either bring us together or break us apart. For the young couple, it was the former, not the latter. Anan stepped up to become Rima’s pillar of support.

Anan Saadat is a 30-year-old dentist from the Gaza Strip. He is married to Rima Abu Aida, 27. Though the couple now has a renewed sense of hope for their future, things were difficult, in fact, very difficult in recent years.  

Kidney Failure

Anan and Rima got married in 2018. Three years later, the couple faced a challenge. They wanted to conceive a child but couldn’t. So, in 2021 they resorted to a specialized hospital for in-vitro fertilization. 

During the egg retrieval procedure, however, Rima developed a severe infection caused by unsterilized equipment, resulting in kidney failure.

The young woman was transferred to a hospital in the West Bank city of Al-Khalil (Hebron), where she spent 24 days in the intensive care unit. Doctors informed Anan that his wife would require regular dialysis to survive.

“In the beginning, I stood helpless. I sobbed uncontrollably for my wife,” Anan told The Palestine Chronicle.

For Rima, it was a different kind of heartbreak. “After dialysis, I was so tired I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t have a life. It truly felt like my life didn’t have any meaning.”

Hard times either bring us together or break us apart. For the young couple, it was the former, not the latter. Anan stepped up to become Rima’s pillar of support.

Anan’s Offer

The couple returned to Gaza, where Anan stopped practicing dentistry to entirely focus on Rima’s needs. He cared for her during the initial three-month treatment period, accompanying her through the grueling dialysis sessions three times a week.

“We used to go to dialysis at 10 pm and finish at 2 in the morning, sometimes even 3 or 4,” Anan said with a broken voice.

Aside from his wife’s suffering, Anan had also to deal with the financial strain and mounting debts.

He also wanted to donate his own kidney, but the procedure required outside expertise not available in Gaza.

Rima, at first rejected Anan’s offer, then, accepted, for her sake, and the sake of the new family.  

Journey of Hope – Then Despair

In May 2022, the couple eventually traveled to Egypt for the transplant surgery.

“I was no longer working; therefore I had no source of income at the time,” Anan told us. 

“I borrowed money from my in-laws, my sister, and my family. Even my married sisters sold their gold (obtained as marriage gifts) so that I could travel with my wife for her treatment.” 

But after a month in Egypt, more complications followed. The couple had no tissue matching, which is required by Egyptian medical regulations for kidney transplants.

When they returned to Gaza, Anan and Rima felt truly defeated. 

But hope was quickly rekindled when they met Dr. Ghazi Alyazji, head of the Kidney Transplant Department at Al-Shifa Hospital. 

The doctor said that, despite the lack of tissue matching, the kidney transplant was still possible, with the help of a visiting medical delegation.

The Surgery

The first delegation, coming from Jordan, was prevented from entering Gaza. However, on July 13, 2023, Anan and Rima finally underwent the delicate surgery. 

It was a success. 

Following the successful surgery, Anan can breathe a sigh of relief. However, he is still processing the trauma and he cannot forget the details of that harrowing experience, which tested their love, faith, and willpower.  

“My wife’s dialysis treatment lasted two years, one month, two days, and five hours,” he recalls. He remembers the whole ordeal in all of its details. 

For Rima and Anan, the transplant was comparable to a rebirth. Rima, however, still longs to become a mother. She told the Palestine Chronicle that she hopes that one day she will hold her baby in her arms. 

Considering everything that Rima and Anan have been through, such hope is maybe possible.

– Yousef Dawas is a writer at We are not numbers. He is interested in economics and politics, and he is a talented photographer. WANN contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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1 Comment

  1. This is such an uplifting story. At the same time it speaks to the tragic and inhumane limits Zionism places on Gaza and now the war on the West Bank. Yousef makes us feel it all. I thank you, Susan Gutwill

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